As a Jewish girl, I feel privileged that I was entrusted with the mitzvah of welcoming Shabbos each week. On Friday night, we sing the Aishet Chayil – Who can find a woman of valor? What does the word “Chayil” mean? “Chayil” means “Soldier.” The woman of valor is a determined individual who faces the world’s great darkness and challenges with courage and strength. What are her weapons? In Hebrew “Neshek” means weapon. The Nun-Shin-Kuf is an acronym for “Neirot Shabbat Kodesh.” The Shabbat candle is an “Aishet Chayil’s” weapon of light to fight darkness. We fight with light and we will win!
One of the reasons why Hashem gave the mitzvah of lighting Shabbos candles to women is because when Hashem redeemed us from Egypt the women were the “beacons of light” who gave encouragement to their husbands and assured them that Hashem would not forsake His people. They continued to have children and build Jewish homes through the darkest moments in time. So too, in our generation the women spread light and hope and are the source of the Jewish people’s staunch belief in the final Redemption, and in their merit Moshiach will come.
— Shaina Laber, Age 12
Maimonides Hebrew Day School
New York, USA